If you love cute shoujo mangas, then Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet Volume 1, serialized in English from Yen Press, is up your alley. Created by Mika Yamamori, translated by Taylor Engel, and lettering by Lys Blakeslee, this manga follows high schooler Fumi Ohno, whose life upends when her father incurs a large debt from a loan shark. Now with no home, her father departs to the sea to earn money. Meanwhile, Fumi finds a job as a live-in housekeeper for a novelist, Akatsuki Kibikino. Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet Volume 1 is sweet and similar to a series like Fruits Basket. Fumi’s kindness and determination to see the bright side is inspiring. But the series needs more in later volumes. 

Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet Volume 1 Has An Interesting First Encounter

Fumi and Akatsuki’s meet-cute is anything but cute. When she arrives at the residence, she sees attractive and young Akatsuki passed out at the entrance. When he awakens, they are both taken aback by each other’s appearance. Fumi assumed Akatsuki would be old. Akatsuki doubts Fumi’s capabilities because of her youth. Akatsuki is rude, so he is the typical standoffish, cold character that learns to open up. Despite his rudeness, Fumi, particularly since she has nowhere to go, tries to dispel his mistaken belief that she is useless as a housekeeper.

The series moves fast regarding Akatsuki’s attitude shift, which occurs in the first volume. Still, depending on where the series heads, this could work. Especially since another guy lurks around Fumi. Isshin Aioi is a transfer student to Fumi’s school with an axe to grind against her. His grudge is ridiculous. He wants payback because she defeated him in a race ten years ago. That is a long time to remember another person’s name and resent them for beating you fair and square. But maybe he mistook a crush for dislike. Still, the character’s do not make a deep impression because it feels like shoujo manga from the numbers.

Forced Servant Is Unrealistic

Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet Volume 1 cover of Fumi smiling.
Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet Volume 1 cover

The way he threatens and forces Fumi to hang around him feels ridiculous to me. After all, if someone has something that belongs to me, I am either taking it back myself or getting someone else to take it back for me. A collection of supermarket stamps held hostage is not enough to get me, or anyone I know, playing servant to a guy. Of course, with companies forcing inflation, that could change. Yeah, no, it won’t. Ridiculous is fine, but it needs to make sense for the characters and story.

Not sure why Fumi humors Aioi and does not kick him in the leg and take her stamps while he howls on the floor in pain, but there it is. Still, it is clear Aioi has some familial issues, given his reaction when Fumi suggests his family will worry he is out so late. That might tie in with his inability to recognize how he feels about Fumi and also why he resents her. I hope later issues explore more of these characters to round them out. But as introductions go, Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet Volume 1 sets up the characters; just few surprises occur. 

Cute, But So Far Not Much Else

While cliched, Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet Volume 1 is adorable thanks to Fumi’s character, but they will need to step up the story in later volumes. Also, make some of the decisions characters make more realistic or at least understandable for the character. The series needs more comedy since most of the series was drama and sweetness that does not stand out. Fumi’s choices have the potential for comedy, and hopefully, Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet takes advantage of it.

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